Wed, Jul 07, 2004 - Page 10 News List

COA cuts duties on imports as vegetable prices take off

By Tina Yuan  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER , WITH CNA

The Council of Agriculture will organize for the import of 1,000 tonnes of vegetables as soon as possible to deal with soaring prices in the wake of Tropical Storm Mindulle.

Vegetable prices have almost doubled after the storm destroyed crop land, forcing the government to cut tariffs on imports to ease the shortage, the council said.

Import duties will be halved between now and July 31 to encourage imports, the council said.

Lillian Lee (李莉莉), a public relations manager at Carrefour Taiwan, said the retailer has no choice but raise prices in view of the heavy destruction of crops.

"Vegetables are up 30 percent while those of the root stocks remain stable," Lee said.

"The price hikes are expected to last for this week at least," she said.

Carrefour will gauge the supply situation before deciding on its next move, she said.

Fiona Wang (王彤芳), marketing manager of RT-Mart, said her company's vegetable prices are changing daily.

"Our prices aren't really fluctuating a lot but simply reflect the price from production sites," Wang said.

"We strongly recommend customers choose imported vegetables or root-stock produce, which are much cheaper," she said.

To meet consumer demand, the council has contracted the quasi-official Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Co (台北農產運輸公司) to arrange for imports of vegetables from abroad as quickly as possible.

It is hoped that about 40 tonnes of imports per day will be supplied in the next month to meet demand, according to the company.

Daily vegetable supplies to Taipei reached 1,285 tonnes yesterday, up 605 tonnes from a day earlier, as farmers hurried to harvest their crops before the vegetables rotted, the company said.

Wholesale prices for vegetables, therefore, declined to NT$24.2 per kilogram on average, down NT$3.28 per kilogram from Monday.

But the real impact on vegetable shipments is expected to appear in the next few days, it said.

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